Just got an email today from the Be The Match Bone Marrow Registry reminding me that July is African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month. That’s great, but also, if you’re not African American and you have bone marrow (which, I mean, hello?) you can also donate. I did, and am donor # 128909 and hoping to be called up again, and that the next time, I’ll be donor #800,000, because, seriously, we can beat this!
My bone marrow donation is, thus far, the singular best thing I have ever done in my life. Because it was done for a stranger, because it was done without expectation of reward (those cookies and a full day of Mary Tyler Moore in a private hospital room with PTO from work were balla’, though), and because, what else was I going to do with all that bone marrow, really? That’s the kind of supply-demand economics I can get behind. I got it in excess (with a little help from the injections), someone needs it, they’ll pay me in cookies, nice people and gratitude. I’ll take door #1, #2 and #3, friend. DEAL!
Seriously, though, here’s me just prompting you to get on the registry so that you, too, might be able to do more than you’d thought you could do, be more than you’d thought you could be … and, bonus, get as many cookies as you can eat in return in a room full of the nicest nurses, PAs and doctors you’ll ever meet. I think oncology practitioners must be born and not made, because it seems out of the realm of possibility that people could be taught to be kind in the way that they are.
And, in case you’re a’frait (as we say in the South) of the pain, not all bone marrow donation requires invasive procedures. I did PBSC donation, which was a bit annoying, in that I had to get up super early for four days in a row! Oh, the misery! And, then I had to get out of bed after being awake, step over a snoring dog or two, make my way to the door and open it to let the nurse in (who CAME TO MY HOME TO MAKE IT CONVENIENT FOR ME) so she could give me a shot of meds to spur bone marrow production. Oh, the suffering .. but, really? I should have been up walking a dog well before she arrived, the shots were in the fattiest part of my arm (read: anywhere) and they didn’t hurt much. If you grew up with a big brother/sister who pinched in anger? It was like that. The whole thing took 10 minutes, max. I’d like to thank her, actually, because she helped me not be so lazy … at least for a week.
And, at the end of the day, who doesn’t want to be able to say, “I saved a life!” or, at least, “I extended the time that one person had to love their family, contribute to their community and make their mark!”? It’s just as much a gift to the recipient as it is to the giver, and that’s not something everyone gets the chance to experience. You can have that chance, though.
So, before July ends, get on the registry. It doesn’t matter your race (which is a construct, but more on that in another post), ethnicity, gender, or anything else. The great thing about saving someone’s life in this instance is the gift is in all of us already and everyone is ready to receive it. We were born with it.